Is Law School a Waste of Time?

8 February 2007 at 9:51 am 2 comments

| Peter Klein |

We frequently criticize management education on these pages. To show that we’re equal-opportunity critics, we point you to this essay by George Leef, “Is Law School a Waste of Time?” Leef summarizes a recent Carnegie Foundation report taking law schools to task for “giv[ing] only casual attention to teaching students how to use legal thinking in the complexity of actual law practice” and “fail[ing] to complement the focus on skill in legal analyses with effective support for developing ethical and social skills.” Sounds a lot like business schools!

Writes Leef:

To anyone who thinks that merely because someone has graduated from law school, he “knows the law” and is capable of providing a client capable assistance, the Carnegie Foundation report is like a cold shower. It’s telling us that law students spend three or more years of their lives and huge amounts of money just to become qualified to start learning what they really need to know. While it’s true that law schools are good at instructing students in some basic things — how to do legal research and to “think like a lawyer” — the question is whether it needs to take so long and cost so much to accomplish that.

As we’ve noted before, graduate and professional degrees may function primarily as signals, but as such, they are very expensive signals. There must be more efficient ways to provide certification and social networking. (Look soon for Organizations and Markets University — for a modest fee we’ll give you a written test plus access to our private Facebook pages!)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Institutions, Teaching.

Don’t Believe the E-Hype Bloggers versus Newspaper Columnists

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Vladimir Dzhuvinov  |  8 February 2007 at 11:55 am

    I want to sign up :)

    Otherwise I agree that law should be demystified. Perhaps you, as an economist, could ask yourself who benefits most from the status quo :)

  • 2. Cliff Grammich  |  14 February 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Facebook, eh? I remember a conservative campus paper reviewing a book on political cartoons. Most of the featured cartoonists were left/liberal, but this didn’t bother the reviewer, because, he claimed, left/liberal types were more likely to waste their time drawing cartoons. Conservatives, he quickly added, went for more dignified wastes of time, such as law school or business school . . .

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